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Torrey Pine
Pinus torreyana
About Torrey Pine (Pinus torreyana) Nurseries Show All Photos The Torrey pine, Pinus torreyana, is the rarest pine species in the United States, an endangered species growing along the coast of San Diego County and on two of the Channel Islands. It is a broad, open-crowned pine tree growing to 8 - 17 meters (26 - 56 ft) tall in the wild, with 25 - 30 centimeters (9.8 - 11.8 in) long gray-green needles groups of five. The cones are stout and heavy, typically 8 - 15 cm (3.1 - 5.9 in) long and broad, and contain large, hard-shelled, but edible, pine nuts. The species name torreyana is named for John Torrey, an American botanist, after whom the coniferous genus Torreya is also named. The "wild" native population of Pinus torreyana is restricted to about 3000 trees growing in a narrow strip along the Southern California coast in San Diego, and on Santa Rosa and San Miguel Islands. The presence of Torrey pines along the semi-arid coast of San Diego and Santa Rosa Island (rainfall less than 15 inches per year) is probably a relic population of a much more extensive Ice Age distribution. Coastal fog during spring and summer along the San Diego and Santa Rosa Island coast provides just enough moisture to supplement the fairly low winter rainfall, allowing for survival of the species in the wild habitat zone.

In its native habitat, Pinus torreyana is found in the Coastal sage scrub plant community, growing slowly in dry sandy soil. The root system is extensive. A tiny seedling may quickly send a taproot down 60 centimeters (24 in) seeking moisture and nutrients. A mature tree may have roots extending 75 meters (246 ft). Exposed trees battered by coastal winds are often twisted into beautiful sculptural shapes resembling large bonsai, and rarely exceed 12 m (39 ft) tall.
Pinus torreyana was one of the rarest pine species in the world in the early 20th century, with only around 100 trees surviving. However, with conservation the wild population has grown to about 3,000 trees in present times.

Endangered in the wild, Torrey pine is planted as an ornamental tree, and is used in native plant and drought tolerant gardens and landscapes. The Torrey pine is protected by a city tree ordinance in Del Mar, near the native habitat, and construction projects and citizens require a permit for its removal. Under cultivation, on richer soils with higher rainfall or supplemental irrigation, the Torrey pine is capable of fast growth to a large size, with tall and straight trees from 33 metres (108 ft) - 45 meters (148 ft) in height.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
25 - 150 ft (7.6 - 45.7 m)

Max. Width
25 - 50 ft (7.6 - 15.2 m)

Mounding, Pyramidal, Rounded, Spreading, Upright Columnar

Fragrant - Pleasant

Growth Rate
Fast, Moderate, Slow


Long gray green needles

Flower Color
Red, Yellow

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Sandy bluffs, sandstone cliffs

Full Shade

Elevation ?
10' - 1535'

Annual Precip. ?
9.8" - 22.6"

Summer Precip. ?
0.15" - 0.36"

Coldest Month ?
49.1° F - 56.2° F

Hottest Month ?
62.7° F - 78.6° F

Humidity ?
0.94 vpd - 23.37 vpd

Soil Description
Sandy soils, sandstone

Soil Texture
Loamy Sand, Sand, Sandy Clay, Sandy Clay Loam, Sandy Loam

Soil PH
8 - 10

Fast, Medium

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to -5 - 5° F

Companion Plants
Toyon, White Coast Ceanothus, Del Mar Manzanita, Lemondade Sumac

Wildlife Attracted
Butterflies (White Pine), Birds (especially Scrub Jays), small mammals

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

Water Requirement ?
Very Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Prune in winter when wood boring insects are less active.

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: 1-3 mos. stratification ( USDA Forest Service 1974).

Common uses
Bank Stabilization, Bird Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Common Names
De Mar Pine, Soledad Pine

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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